Questions From Readers
● Is it proper or improper for a dedicated Christian to stand when the national anthem is played? Why?—R. S., U.S.A.
A national anthem is in effect a prayer to God on behalf of a nation belonging to Satan’s system of things and invariably asks material prosperity and long life for that nation. As Christians following the example of Jesus Christ we cannot pray for any part of Satan’s world or for any of the things in it. (John 17:9) Note also that the prophet Jeremiah, who found himself in a position comparable to ours, was at least three times commanded not to pray for his nation and people. See Jeremiah 7:16; 11:14; 14:11.
So, as Christians, we cannot conscientiously join in the prayerful sentiments of the national anthem on behalf of a system of things that Jehovah God has doomed to be destroyed. Neither can we Scripturally speak or act in agreement with its words that claim God’s blessings upon wars of a worldly nation. Our boast is not in any of the worldly nations but in Jehovah and his King and kingdom.
According to custom, one indicates that he is in sympathy with the sentiments of this song merely by standing. This fact was highlighted by the action of certain Allied officers who refused to stand at the playing of the German national anthem some time after World War II. Since the Christian is not in sympathy with the sentiments of any national anthem of this old world, he may not give others the impression that he is by rising when it is being played or sung. He can no more conscientiously take this special action toward the national anthem of his country of residence than the three Hebrews could have taken the special action demanded of them by King Nebuchadnezzar toward the image.—Dan. 3:1-23.
It should be noted, however, that there is a difference between standing for the national anthem and school children being required to stand for flag-salute ceremonies. There appears to be no more objection to their standing in such instances than to adults standing when a judge enters his courtroom. The ceremony of the flag salute consists of certain movements of the hands and an oral pledge. While refraining from these, a child can stand out of respect for the flag and the good principles for which it stands and yet not be participating in the flag-salute ceremony.
● What does the apostle refer to at Romans 8:39 by the phrase “height nor depth”?—F. G., U.S.A.
Here the apostle Paul speaks of height and depth as a creation, saying: “Nor height nor depth nor any other creation.” Height and depth are creations in a relative sense as a result of comparison with something else. Hence, the apostle Paul is here pointing out that neither a high position nor a low position of God’s spirit-begotten sons will be able to separate them from his love.
But height and depth may be referred to not merely in the abstract sense, as referring to position. They may be understood also in a concrete sense as meaning something that occupies a high position or something that occupies a low position. Hence, neither that which occupies a low position and has the tendency to pull one down nor that which occupies a high position and tends to exercise a superior influence over one will be able to separate the spirit-begotten sons, who are heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, from God’s love for them, nor even from Christ’s love for them. The same principle, of course, holds true regarding the “great crowd” of “other sheep” today.
Note that Paul here is not discussing his own firm resolve not to permit anything to cause his own love for God to grow cold, but the converse. He is stressing the fact that absolutely nothing in all the universe can frustrate God’s love for his spirit-begotten sons. The unshakable conviction that this is so is a comfort to all such.